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Help: What am I doing wrong :(

  1.6 Focus, 1.6 122S
Camera: Canon 350D
Lenses: 18-55 and 75-300

Went to Virginia Water yesterday to finally try and learn to use my DSLR.

Settings sued were a combination of Full Auto / P / and some of the pesets.

Even so, surely the pictures shouldn't be this lifeless and out of focus?

I used a tripod for every shot.

This have been uploaded to photobucket, but even so you can tell which ones are lacking depth!

First here are some of the good ones:




Here are some that at the time I felt would be great pictures, but as mentioned they seem so flat :(




  Partner's Astra SRi
Do they look like that on your computer or just now you've uploaded them to Photobucket?
Building on Lauren's comment, I'd upload them to Flickr, so people can judge them better. Flickr > Photobucket.

I would suggest maybe to add a little bit of vividness to the pics, through a setting on the camera, don't know Canon's so can't help directly. That would certainly help the colours. Then just have a little fiddle with them in Photoshop, or Picasa is quite good (n00b friendly) if you're not familiar with all the terminology.
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Looking at the Exif from a couple of photos (2nd and last but one) you were pushing it a little with the shutter speed - i.e you need really steady hands or a tripod to produce a sharp photo (you mentioned using a tripod for the majority of photos, not sure if it includes these two). Lack of shutter speed will create motion blur and provide a soft / out of focus effect.

The general rule (although it is there to be broken) is to keep the shutter speed at least equal to 1 over the focal length.....i.e taking a shot a 100mm, then you'll probably need 1/100 to get a sharpish shot. Now with digital crop cameras (like the 350D) you need to multiply the lens focal length by a factor of 1.6, so your 100mm becomes 160mm and shutter speed become 1/160. Also consider when taking shots of moving subjects, irrespective of holding the camera steady, if your shutter speed is not high enough it will capture the blur - in some cases this may be an effect that you want to create.

The best thing to do is browse a few websites, notably flickr and look at a few photos, many people leave their EXIF data intact so you can see their camera settings, this will give you a few pointers. I'd also recommend picking up "Understanding Exposure" by Bryan Peterson, it's a great starting point and provides some great tips on exposure, composition and many other things.

Above all, practice, practice, practice...


  Focus TDCi
The photo looking out across the water (4th one down) is taken at ISO 1600. Not only does that increase noise in the image, but it also washes out colour, so try using a lower ISO if possible (tripod needed). Another thing is that at f-stop numbers higher than around f/11 - f/16 (depends on the lens), you will find that diffraction takes place leading to a loss in sharpness/contrast etc, so maybe try opening up your aperture a little bit.

As Paul says, make sure you're using a tripod and I'd also recommend using a remote/shutter delay and using mirror lock-up to reduce in-camera shake.

With the last few shots the dynamic range (from white whites to black blacks) is large and too big for the camera to resolve properly, which is why your sky has washed out to grey/white. To counteract this you either need to use a graduated neutral density filter or take multiple shots exposing one for the land and one for the sky and then merging them in Photoshop or somewhere.

I dunno how read up on all of that you are, but just ask if it sounds like I'm talking nonsense (I probably am lol) and I'll try and explain better. :)

Edit: To be honest Saner, I think a lot of your problems are caused by the multi-segment metering that the camera is set to. It considers the whole scene and takes an average light reading, but it's making some parts of the image really dark/underexposed and some really light/overexposed. I'd recommend a book called Understanding Exposure, as it'll help you understand when to compensate the exposure depending what situation you're in. Sunny days don't help as it makes the range so much wider.
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  1.6 Focus, 1.6 122S
wow, thats feedback. Even if I don't understand the half of it!

I had forgotten i'd set that high ISO the day before, the others should all be pretty low.

Tripod was used for all photos except the first two.

Shutter Delay I understand, Mirror Lock Up?

I'll try and pick up a copy of Understanding Exposure as the both of you have recommended it.

Flicker account - Do I have to have a yahoo ID? Don't really want another e-mail account!

Paul / Ian. Thank you. I have read the guides on here but still having trouble grasping what effects what when taking a picture. I'll look at EXIF information as suggested.

Will upload them to flicker asap!


  Focus TDCi
No worries. :) Erm..

Mirror Lock-up: On my 450d it's: Menu -> Custom Functions (C.Fn) -> C.Fn 9 -> 1 : Enable

Basically it flips the mirror out of the way before the shot is taken. The mirror causes extremely small vibrations in camera, so by flipping it early they die down before the shot is taken, making it a bit sharper. Wiki Edit: I'd only use mirror lock-up for ladscape photos using a tripod though, not needed day to day.

Understanding Exposure: Is definitely worth a read, even if you sell it on after you've grasped what it's saying. I'm keeping mine just in case though, lol.

Flickr: Not sure which emails you can use, I'm fairly certain that you can use whatever you want though, as I have two Flickr accounts, but only one Yahoo email.

If you live local to someone who has a dSLR themselves, it may be worth meeting up as it's a lot easier for someone to explain than it is to read in books sometimes. :) Think Jungle Jim lives quite near you?
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  1.2 Dynamique billabong
quick question mate, were you using manual or autofocus for these as they appear to be a little soft in focus and lack clarity. If you shot them using manual focus you may want to check the little dial by the viewfinder. the dial is there to allow people with glasses to still see through the viewfinder however when taking the camera out of the kit bag etc its very easy for the dial to be moved, making it impossible to manually focus a sharp shot as the actual eye piece part is out of focus too.

another thing you should try too (although i dont know if this is due to photobucket compression) is once you have saved the pics off the memory card is to format it. I pretty much do this every time i put a card in the camera, its very easy when swapping the card between the camera and pc for slight corruption to occur and while in this case it hasnt made the image invalid it can lead to slight jpeg artifacting which will kill image quality
  Mk2 ph1 clio
Another good tip to get nicer, and more vibrant colours, is to set your white balance to Direct sunlight. I use that for most of my wildlife/landscapes at the moment when the light is pretty poor and it makes one hell of a difference.

The swans, the focus looks like its on the swans neck which will make the head slightly out of focus and look softer which kills any action there was in the shot.

With wildlife/animals/people always try to focus on the eye!
  1.6 Focus, 1.6 122S





Okay, got myself a Flickr Account, uploaded the pictures again, think i have chosen a couple of different ones this time round, prefered these!

Jim: was Auto Focus, which is why i'm dissapointed on teh lack of clarity. I'm standing there with this on a tripod and my other have is better better pictures with her point and click!

I have started to make a habit of formatting the memory card though :)

Will also have a look at the White Balance. Just need an oportunity to get out and try some landscape pictures again :(
The latest bunch look okay to me in terms of sharpness but it is hard to say without seeing the 100% crops.

It looks like you had tricky light to work with too, cloud infront of the sun kills colours. You can sort this out with a bit of fiddling in Lightroom or Photoshop in a few clicks though.

I hope you don't mind, I upped the clarity and saturation on a couple of your shots to give you an idea of what you can do.

If you had shot in RAW then you might have been able to pull back some of the detail from the sky too, but it has been blown out in JPG.

Before & After: